- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2000

Tamil rebels promise to observe cease-fire

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka Tamil Tiger rebels yesterday promised to abide by their monthlong cease-fire despite its rejection by the government, and urged international support in persuading Sri Lanka to negotiate peace.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam said in a statement issued from its headquarters in the northern Vanni jungles and posted on its Web site that it would not launch an armed offensive but reserves the right to defend itself.

The government rejected the rebels' offer to resume peace talks, stalled for five years, and launched a new offensive on Friday that killed 167 combatants on both sides.

Brazilian submarine sinks at dock

SAO PAULO, Brazil The Brazilian navy launched an investigation yesterday into what caused its largest submarine to sink at its moorings.

None of the crew was injured when the submarine Tonelero sank in shallow water yesterday at the naval base in Rio de Janeiro, where it was under repair, naval officials said.

A failure in the hydraulic system that controls the submarine's valves caused the vessel to take on water at an uncontrollable rate, naval Commander Joao Carlos Rezende said.

Mexico's volcano spews plumes of vapor, ash

MEXICO CITY Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano stirred from a quiet slumber yesterday, spewing tall plumes of ash and causing several small earthquakes.

The volcano had quieted down after erupting early last week, its strongest in 1,200 years. Scientists have warned that more strong eruptions are possible.

Popocatepetl belched ash and vapor yesterday, with one plume reaching nearly 2 miles high. The recent eruptions have dusted nearby villages with ash, but had little impact on Mexico City, 40 miles to the northwest.

Russia plans creation of new spy agency

MOSCOW Russia, home to some of the world's most feared secret services, plans to create a new intelligence agency next year to penetrate the darkest corners of the country's finances.

Tax Police head Vyacheslav Soltaganov told a news conference yesterday that the agency, which he described as an analytical center, would stick to the letter of the law. But it would leave no stone unturned in its operations inside a country that is still a hotbed of crime and corruption.

The center, answering to the Finance Ministry, will probably be established in the next few months, he said. But parliament will first have to pass several laws, including one that would list all organizations obliged to report any suspicious deals.

Saddam calls for holy fight

BAGHDAD Saddam Hussein used his traditional Christmas message yesterday to call on the world's Christians and Muslims to rise up in holy war against Israel and the "Zionist conspiracy."

The Iraqi leader praised Christians and other Iraqis for standing up to conspiracies through which "the United States, Britain and Zionism … have tried to bend Iraqis' will, bring them to their knees and master their independent decision."

The president called on Christians and Muslims everywhere to take "the path of [holy war], without which we cannot attain our aspirations of establishing right, justice and peace and delivering humanity from the evils of aggressors, criminal killers."

Man dies in fall from jet at Gatwick

LONDON A man plunged to his death on the main runway of London's Gatwick Airport from a jumbo jet yesterday, police said. It happened a day after police recovered another body they believe may have fallen from a plane.

An airport worker saw the man, who has not been identified, fall at about 9:15 a.m. from a British Airways Boeing 777 headed for Cancun, Mexico.

"We have no idea how he could have got there. The police are on the site and the investigations are ongoing," said Mike Ingle, duty manager at Gatwick.

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